October 13, 2015 16:43 UTC

In the News

Ethiopia's Meles Goes on Sick Leave

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A picture of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zeinawi taken last year.A picture of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zeinawi taken last year.
A picture of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zeinawi taken last year.
A picture of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zeinawi taken last year.


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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
This week, Ethiopians were closely following any news about the condition of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. A spokesman said in Addis Ababa on Thursday that the prime minister was taking sick leave on doctors' orders. Spokesman Bereket Simon said Mr. Meles' health was good, but he needed time to recover from an illness caused in part by an overload of work.
BEREKET SIMON: "Regarding his illness, I think I have told you that he is in good condition. He has got very good treatment for the ailment, and definitely he's in good condition."
Mr. Bereket did not give any details of what the fifty-seven-year-old prime minister was being treated for or where. But he denied reports on Ethiopian dissident websites that Mr. Meles had brain cancer.
The spokesman said the government was operating as normal and that Mr. Meles was still in power.
BEREKET SIMON: "The only thing that I can say is, although he's in charge, he has to take some rest -- a week, ten days, five days, whatever. A leave of absence does not mean there’s nobody in charge."
His comments followed media reports that the Ethiopian leader was in critical condition at a hospital in Belgium.
David Shinn, formerly American ambassador to Ethiopia, told VOA that he had no information about the prime minister’s health. But he said the spokesman's comments suggested a serious health issue.
DAVID SHINN: "You wouldn't make a statement like that -- that is so open-ended -- unless the problem is significant."
He also described Mr. Meles as the kind of leader who plans ahead.
DAVID SHINN: "Whatever his health problem is, he probably has known about it for some time. This was not some sort of a surprise issue, at least, that would be my guess. And if I am correct in that assumption then I would be willing to bet very good money that he has been planning for some way to deal with this issue in order to ensure some kind of reasonable succession of government in Ethiopia."
Mr. Meles became president after he led rebels to power in nineteen ninety-one, overthrowing Ethiopia's former military government. He was elected prime minister in nineteen ninety-five.
Mr. Meles has served as the African Union’s spokesman on climate change. He has been praised for helping lift Ethiopia out of poverty after civil war. But he has been criticized for silencing all forms of dissent.
Ethiopia has been seen as a close American ally in its support of anti-terrorism efforts in Somalia and East Africa. But the State Department has been critical of the government's human rights record and use of new anti-terrorism laws to suppress free speech. American officials have also criticized the way in which the government held recent national elections.
Mr. Meles was last seen in public more than two weeks ago. He did not attend a meeting of AU leaders in the Ethiopian capital last Saturday and Sunday. At that meeting, South Africa's home affairs minister became the first woman to lead the African Union Commission.
NKOSOZANA DLAMINI-ZUMA: "I, Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma, solemnly undertake to exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience, the function and responsibility entrusted to me as chairperson of the Commission of the African Union."
Ms. Dlamini-Zuma is the former wife of South African President Jacob Zuma. She was elected Sunday on the fourth ballot, defeating Chairman Jean Ping of Gabon.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. For the latest news from Ethiopia and across Africa, go to voanews.com. You can also click on Learning English to read, listen and learn English with our programs and activities. I'm Steve Ember.
Contributing: Gabe Joselow
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: dawit from: mekel
08/18/2012 1:46 PM

by: anonymous from: ethipoia
07/23/2012 11:27 AM
it is just for no intuitive reason if i am to want EPRDF stay in power. but, as far as it stays, i wish PM Meles stay alive and take the position once again as there would be no one better than him within the party. in deed, if the party is to lose him, it would be a disaster for the party as has been suffering a dependency syndrome so far. any way i have two wishes: first God may be with him; second let again, he rethink the existence of death, and hence, STOP suppressing us with his disciples.

by: solomon from: USA
07/22/2012 6:16 PM
Meles is evil for his people. The people are still in poverty, no democracy and corruption are the identity of his government.

by: Tahir from: South Africaa
07/22/2012 12:58 PM
I am tahir if melas his daing I am very happy also all ethiopia people

by: Anonymous
07/22/2012 7:17 AM
pm melese is vary briliant leader
he can lead not ethiopia but also he can be aleader of
i wish for him health and long leave

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
07/21/2012 9:04 AM
What VOA wants to suggest sounds like that the man once led rebels to power by overthrowing millitary government has been changed to the non-democratic learder supptessing free speech of dissendents. Has he also turn out to be a dectator? How a foreign country could press the way of power succession on Ethiopia?

In Response

by: THHF from: ethiopia
07/22/2012 6:39 AM
hi i would like to inform u that PM will be recover soon anu u have to knaw haw can u say dictator? we knaw our country when tplf come to power it starts from zero even negative and naw look the diferent we are lucky example the nile river become in function to ethi. so the progres naw and before................dont be extrimist

In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
07/25/2012 10:43 AM
Hi THHF, I'm sorry if I harmed your favor to your PM. You know, I didn't say he is a dictator, but I just asked VOA if he is a dictator. The article sounded like implying almost VOA looks forward to his last day. I originally stand by Ethiopian people. I'm happy if Ethiopian people are governed happily under his administration with fulfillment. I hope his earlier recovery.

by: Maru from: USA
07/21/2012 5:13 AM
I am an Ethiopian economist currently residing in th US. I am not affiliated with any pro or anti-Ethiopian government group. However, it always surprises me when I see statements on major media oulets such as VOA and AFP claiming Ethiopia has been 'lifted out of poverty' under the leadership of Mr. Meles Zenawi (some times after quoting government provided statistics of astronomical growth rates). During my visits, I haven't seen any reduction in poverty. In fact, Ethiopians are suffering from an ever increasing inflation and a high degree of poverty and insecurity. Reports published by international institutions do not show a significant economic stride as is being claimed by journalists. It looks like to me that you are simply recycling information among different media without doing independent research. I guess I am asking too much?

In Response

by: Samoa from: Ethiopia
07/23/2012 7:35 AM
Dear Maru,
Rather than asking VOA to do the research to justify your wish why don't you try it yourself (as an economist) and show us that the country is not growing at all.

If you want my opinion, but from within, Ethiopia is growing and there is no doubt. The extent, as most international institutions acknowledge, is not two digits but one.

You did not see any reduction in poverty during your visit. How do you define poverty. Yes there are still a considerable number of poor and desperate people all over the country, though much much higher than your US. You did not want to see and appreciate all the infrastructure that is flourishing from North to South West to East, which will serve to further growth and reduce poverty in the long-term. Or you don't consider that as an indicator of growth.

Please, we should distinguish between politics and economy. Stop laboring to disgrace your own country, as it is the same as disgracing your own mother.

In Response

by: Lemma gabisa from: A.A
07/22/2012 8:08 AM
You see Mr Maru ,During your visits you didnt / dont want / read the truth

In Response

by: Sofia from: Ethiopia
07/22/2012 3:12 AM
Dear Maru ("the economist"), double-digit economic growth in Ethiopia for last 7 years are IMF & World Bank stats., not Ethiopia's (actually claiming higher growth)...last I checked, IMF & World Bank don't work for Ethiopia.

Meles Zenawi has been continually invited to G8 & G20 World Summits for last several years to speak on poverty reduction in Africa.

If you think you can do better, come to Ethiopia and create jobs, instead of criticizing from U.S....You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

In Response

by: Samoa from: Ethiopia
07/27/2012 7:10 PM
Thank you Sofi

In Response

by: Debora from: Ethiopia
08/06/2012 8:35 AM
Dear Mr Maru, the so-called economist. I think you had been to see the truth during your visit or you might not know Ethiopia well before your visit.

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